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Atelier Crenn or similiar unique food for 70th Birthday

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We two are looking for special dinner to celebrate 70th. Food at Atelier looks great but $160 per person and $120 for wine pairing seems steep. I , the birthday person , am not a big drinker, but H
likes his wine.

We live in the East Bay, love good food and looking for something unique with regard to food. We love all kinds of ethnic food and ambiance is not a super high priority.

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  1. In my opinion, would avoid the wine pairings at Atelier Crenn, their wine program isn't fully developed, they lost their sommelier recently and not sure who they got to replace him. The beverage pairings at Benu (same price range though) were excellent.

    One price point step down, Chez Panisse may be a good option or Gary Danko in the city.

    7 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      or commis at half the crenn price.
      or kappa for fancy traditional japanese served at a counter.

      1. re: Dustin_E

        I'm planning a special trip to Crenn myself, later this week. I can report back.

        Have been to Benu and Coi, and neither of them quite scratched the tasting menu itch for me, though Benu was vastly superior to Coi. I may give either or both a try in an another year if reviews continue to be raves. Coi, in particular, was so off for me that I'm suspecting I might have been there on a bad night.

        As to Japanese:

        I do not recommend Kappa. Much of their food was room temp and prepared before. Nothing special as my palate sees it. I went once and do not plan to return.

        I recommend Kiss for a better experience. Have been repeatedly and love to take out of towners. Or head down the peninsula to Wakuriya.

        1. re: pauliface

          yeah, some (certainly not all) of the food at kappa is at room temp and prepared before. it is a common complaint about the place and for some people it is a deal breaker.

          otoh, kappa serves a lot of japanese ingredients and dishes you are less likely to find at other spots, like various fish roes, traditional clear soups, 'squid noodles', shirako (fish sperm sac), etc.

          the dishes at kiss are too petite for my tastes. i've been to both kiss and kappa a number of times over the years. both are good. they are very different in style. kappa is the one i've been going back to over the past couple years.

          1. re: Dustin_E

            While I've not heard it as a complaint before, I can definitely understand if you feel Kiss is too petite. The food is very refined, the dishes small. But to me the bites are all perfect.

            Kappa does have a slightly more burly touch, for lack of a better word. I do think that if I felt everything was more freshly prepared, I would return. It's not that it's bad, it's just not to my taste.

            1. re: pauliface

              to be fair, i also felt the sushi at the very highly regarded sushiso masa in tokyo was too petite for my tastes :-) it is a very fair objection you have to kappa.

      2. re: goldangl95

        I think if they are looking for something "unique" that Chez Panisse and Gary Danko are not what they're looking for.

        They might want to look at Commis, if Crenn is too steep.

        1. re: goldangl95

          Hello,
          Thank you so much for using Chow hound. Atelier Crenn has a new sommelier level 3, Ian Burrows and comes with a tremendous experience and talent.
          Dominique Crenn

        2. hello,
          Atelier Crenn also offer a smaller tasting at 95 dollars.
          we hope see you soon, otherwise Happy birthday.
          Dominique Crenn

          2 Replies
          1. re: dominiquecrenn

            the smaller tasting at crenn might be a good way to go -- the food is certainly very unique and very good.

            1. re: Dustin_E

              I totally would recommend this... we recently went (2nd time for 2 of us, 1st time for the other 2 who were celebrating birthdays) and had just a spectacular meal. My brother in law, who is not at all a foodie said it was the best meal he's ever had in his life. We found the smaller tasting to be just a perfect amount of food. We haven't tried the wine parings, but the wine list is quite extensive, and they have good demi's if you don't want full bottles.

          2. St. Vincent and AQ both have fabulous wine lists and creative, interesting, good food at a considerably lower price point.

            http://aq-sf.com/food.html
            http://www.stvincentsf.com

            1. Keiko on nob hill is also very good for classic french cooking, with a (very) few modern touches. The chef is japanese and doesn't speak much english, but the japanese influences in the dining room menu were minimal. (supposedly the lounge food is more japanese.) The room and service are also very nice. To me the place felt like what i would expect if i went to a very solid traditional michelin 1* french restaurant in tokyo.